Pixar’s Toy Story films are some of the most acclaimed animated films to be ever made. Toy Story 4, which is director Josh Cooley‘s first feature film, came as a surprise to many as the trilogy had seemed to wrap up the story in a neat package. The fourth film in the series, however, is the bow on that package.
The last Toy Story film ended with a grown-up Andy giving his toys away to a little girl named Bonnie. Woody (Tom Hanks), however, is no longer the favorite toy. Bonnie makes a new toy in school using a spork and names him Forky (Tony Hale) before going on a family road trip and bringing all her toys along. As Woody tries to help Forky understand his new position as a toy, they lose him and he has to go on a rescue mission that has him crossing paths with his old friend, Bo Peep (Annie Potts) and her three-headed sheep, as well as meeting new toys like a suspiciously gracious Gabby Gabby (Christina Hendricks), a Canadian stuntman Duke Caboom (Keanu Reeves), and snarky carnival plushies Bunny (Jordan Peele) and Ducky (Keegan-Michael Key).
Toy Story has always been a franchise that isn’t afraid to address hard topics and the new addition is no different. The animated world of living toys has a more human story to tell than many live-action films and what’s more human than existential dread? Woody has fulfilled his purpose as Andy’s toy and Bonnie doesn’t need him as much. So when he encounters a new world of possibilities opened by Bo Peep who has been living independently, he is forced to think about the next step in his life as a toy. The most interesting dynamic of Toy Story 4 is between Woody and Forky – one is a former favorite toy who’s afraid of becoming trash while the other desperately wants to be trash instead of a favorite toy.
Toy Story 4 also just might be the funniest film of the franchise as it subverts your expectations in delightful ways. The adorable plushies have a dark side and the macho stuntman hides his self-doubt behind his motorcycle poses. Even Buzz (Tim Allen) gets his own comedic moments as he tries to find guidance through his inner voice. There’s also plenty of action as the rescue mission involves dodging shambling ventriloquist dummies, a vicious pet cat, and thrilling stunts.